Yang & Catalina Foothills on Top in San Diego
By Anatoly Ostrovsky   
April 10, 2014
The National High School Championship was an incredibly strong event, with dozens of masters and a GM-elect, Photo Dujiu Yang

When the 2014 High School Nationals concluded, GM-Elect Darwin Yang from Dallas, TX and Catalina Foothills High School from Tucson, AZ celebrated their respective victories. Darwin went into event as the clear favorite and outclassed the opposition, holding a comfortable one point lead going to the last round. Sitting at a perfect 6 out of 6 score, Darwin had the white pieces versus the young and talented FIDE Master Cameron Wheeler from Cupertino, CA. He quickly attained a draw and clinched first place.
The tournament was not FIDE Rated, so Darwin was not able to pick up the extra points towards his main goal of crossing the 2500 FIDE Rating mark. Please look at some fine examples of GM play at the National Scholastic level. Darwin's win vs. NM Homidan was presented in previous articles (see Homidan's trip report here). Here are his other five wins. 





SM Joshua Colas was the last man standing between Darwin and a clear first place finish, Photo Dujiu Yang

Four players tied for second place with 6 out of 7 points including SM Sam Schmakel, NMs Andew Tang and Kesav Viswanadha, and a "shadow hero" of the tournament,  expert Abhishek Obili from Dallas.  Obili started the tournament with a decent but not scaring rating of 2143 but scored 2.5 out of 3 in the last three rounds with wins against NMs Bryan Hu (2323) and Vignesh Panchanatham (2325) and a draw with IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy (2532).
Abishek Obili
It seems like Abishek Obili received some hints from Magnus Carlsen; The young weltmeister used to drink a bottle of orange juice during his games.
If the individual competition was clear and simple, then the team run was messy. After the smoke had cleared, the pre-tournament third ranked team from Arizona outpaced the competition with  20 out of 28 team points. That was Fourth Championship Title for Catalina Foothills High School after 2005, 2007 and 2008 victories. It is strange enough but since 2003 only New York or Arizona teams won National High School Championship for 12 years.

Catalina Foothills HS Team with coach FM Robby Adamson, Photo Dujiu Yang

Three days of colossal fights, upsets and celebrations are over. Everyone should rest like these lovely sea lions from the San Diego beach.

On a personal note, my son Alex had a decent tournament, 5.5 out of 7. This was exactly his average result through a total of five high school nationals. It certainly could be better, but one slip in round 4 on move 41 (see the previous report) put him out of individual contention. After that game, chess dad and distinguished CLO contributor Mark Schein wrote me: "That reminded me why I don't miss the Nationals." Still, he must have plenty of positive memories too as he promised to pay his final visit to Nationals next year with his son Aaron.

An additional and unexpected (due to enormous competition) bonus for Alex was his selection for the 2014 Scholar Chess Player Award, which was announced during the event. 

Last year champions Edward Murrow High School, Brooklyn, NY finished third this year with 19 points

Alex and I met a lot of old friends; we've known the Yang family for many years. Darwin, Alex (and Aaron Schein) represented the United States at the Pan-American Youth Championship (under 10 section) in Ecuador in 2006, where the future GM-Elect obtained his FM Title. We would like once again to personally congratulate Darwin and Dujiu Yang! All your titles equally belong to both of you!


Alex and Yuta Kakutani started to play in the same tournaments at the New Yorker Hotel more than 10 years ago. Later they were classmates and teammates at Hunter College High School for four years. And Yuta's mother Yumiko even played on the parents team I put together at the World Amateur Team (USATE) tournament.

During senior year, Alex and Yuta were so busy that mostly contacted each other only through facebook. Now they are leaving New York City in different directions (Yuta's clothing could give you some preliminary hints), but already talking about possibility to meet each other at the 2014 Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Championship in San Padre Island, Texas, December 27-30.

Thank you to everyone for reading! Good luck and look for more on the Nationals in a future copy of Chess Life Magazine.